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New Class of Galaxies Harbors Strong and Hot Black Hole Winds Preventing Stars to Form, Study Shows

May 26, 2016 08:53 PM EDT
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An international team of scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has discovered a new class of galaxies. Dubbed as "red geysers", that harbors supermassive black hole winds so hot and energetic it prevents the formation of new stars.

According to their study published in the journal Nature, these red geysers are old galaxies that host low-energy supermassive black holes which drive intense interstellar winds. The intense winds from the black holes suppress the formation of new stars by heating up the ambient gas found in galaxies and preventing it from cooling and condensing into stars.

To better understand the life cycle of galaxies, researchers mapped out the details of 10,000 nearby galaxies. In addition to mapping out the center of the galaxies where supermassive black hole resides, they also mapped the outer ages of the galaxy.

Their discovery was made possible with the help of new component survey called Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA).

"With MaNGA's technological upgrade to the Sloan Foundation Telescope, we can make detailed maps of galaxies ten to a hundred times faster than we could just ten years ago," explained Renbin Yan of the University of Kentucky, in a press release. Since MaNGA studies so many galaxies, our snapshots can reveal even the quickest changes happening in galaxies. And that's how we found Akira."

Akira is an example of red geysers named by lead author Edmond Cheung of the University of Tokyo. Akira Is being accompanied by a nearby galaxy dubbed as Tetsuo. According to the study, Akira is pulling gas away from Tetsuo, fueling its supermassive black hole. The winds driven by the black hole are the reason that Akira is currently a red geyser galaxy.

"You can think of these winds as super-heating the atmospheres of galaxies," Cheung said in a report from Astronomy. "As soon as any gas starts to cool, it gets blasted by this wind, like water droplets turning to steam."

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